L.A. Metro CEO Challenges Trump on Infrastructure Funding

President Trump’s most recent transportation budget is projected to cut transportation spending by 13 percent, potentially undercutting many of Los Angeles' ambitious projects to continue the build-out of a full public transportation system.

2 minute read

July 3, 2017, 8:00 AM PDT

By rzelen @rzelen

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Shannon West / Shutterstock

Residents of Los Angeles went to bat and passed Measure M last November to assure up to $120 billion in funding for Los Angeles County transportation upgrades and new projects in coming years. But local investment in transportation infrastructure necessarily relies on federal support, and President Trump's proposed budget is projected to cut transportation spending by 13 percent. Many regional public transit projects already promised federal funding are at risk now of being unfunded. To assess the state of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's system transformation, The Planning Report spoke with CEO Phil Washington, who did not hold back on criticizing the news out of Washington, D.C.

In an exclusive interview, Washington addresses Metro’s 2017-18 budget priorities, the significance of the Metro Board’s formally killing the controversial 710 freeway tunnel project, and opines on how innovations will continue to reimagine the current LA public transportation system.

Washington, who has been very vocal about the role of the federal government in building this infrastructure, explained that he was "very surprised to see three cities in particular—Denver, Los Angeles, and Seattle—called out in President Trump's budget as not meriting federal funding," because they had already raised local money. To him, "the idea that regions that have gone out and raised money on their own—like [Los Angeles] did with Measure R and Measure M—should be penalized by losing federal funds is disastrous." 

"The Trump administration’s recent budget proposal was totally incongruent with its pledge to commit $1 trillion to infrastructure. We hope that Congress will do the right thing and disagree with the budget that has been put forward." - Phil Washington, CEO, LA Metro

In addition to discussing the impacts of the federal budget, Washington spoke about the decision to formally kill the funding for a freeway connection tunnel. The decision now frees up about $700 million from Measure R (L.A.'s 2008 public transportation funding measure) to do projects that significantly alleviate traffic in those specific northeast Los Angeles communities. Metro also announced their intentions to have an all-electric fleet by 2030. 

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